Becoming Bright Spring
January 21, 2013 by Christine Scaman
I met with Chantal* and Rita* within a month of each other.
Chantal’s hair is cut in a short, wash and wear style. The top layer is very yellow, while the hair beneath is medium-dark brown, entirely natural. She is in her late 50s and will probably still have yellow hair in 20 years. Makeup took away 15 years and showed us a very defined bone structure, with high cheekbones and a nose that tips up at the end. Her expression is focused, questioning, and very alert. A personal colour analysis (PCA) long ago said Spring, which we agreed seemed reasonable. She loves colours. Where most women arrive wearing black or no-commitment colours, she had on a lovely green blouse.
Rita expected to hear Light Summer. She does appear fair, with blue-looking eyes and medium brown hair, coloured to a red-gold colour that works surprisingly well, a bit like rose gold jewelry. Although seemingly light of skin, hair, and eye, it was something about her expression and the shape of her features that put the geisha image in my head. Young, exotic, yet apart, on a Caucasian woman in her 40s.
These women have a lot in common. They live practical lives and make practical choices. Both are sensible, serious, organized, quiet, thoughtful as in pensive, and introspective. Neither is rapid in their movements, impulsive, random, giggly, youthful (except to look at), overtly cheerful, or chatty. Nor are they blunt, direct, or sharp in the slightest. They are very polite, pleasant, and hold their cards close.
On meeting them, the impression is light and warm, except that the intensity of the eye in the face is compelling, rather than blending evenly into the face and equally with the other features. The eyes seem like ‘more’. This is not an impression I get from the brown-eyed Bright Spring, maybe because hair is usually darker and the overall look is more balanced.
In the world of 12 Season colour analysis, the natural colouring known as Bright Spring takes its pigmentation from the Spring qualities of colour (warmed by yellow, pure colours, not very dark). Winter has a little say, causing the colours to be cooler, redder, bluer, darker, and even more pure than Spring alone. Bright Spring is a colour rush.
Accepting Bright Spring, or any Season, from the draping is usually easy. It’s a done deal by the time we’re finished. 9 in 10 people can easily see their appearance change. It is what it is. The makeup is harder to accept. The conundrum of “I don’t recognize myself.” and “That woman in the mirror looks fantastic. Why is she acting like me?” takes time to sort out internally.
The book RTYNC (in the right column) and the documents I send clients (similar to the book, but they continue to evolve as I learn and widen my own experience) suggest that Bright Spring looks most consistent with their natural appearance when they dress as activated, energized, bursts and squirts, crazy zigzags, a sunny morning after a freezing rainstorm,
combined with the delicate, a chandelier, gold foil, tinsel, cinnamon heart candies,
and the young, a large or small shiny coloured purse (Bright Spring is not medium), hairbands, sheer coloured tights, and mod looks. A little sharper than Twiggy daisies.
Cirque du Soleil. The motion, physical vitality, and adrenaline of the trapeze. Coloured spotlights. Body paint.
What if you’re really a denim and khakis, Old Navy T-shirts, practical jacket, medium black purse, brown suede slip-ons kind of woman? What if you just like to look medium and not one of those qualifiers connects with you at all?
Some questions came up.
1. Can you confirm that colour 3.3 (from the True Colour Australia Colour Book) is a very dark brown? What would you call it?
Yes, but to me equally gray as brown. I think of the colour of a seal. Bright Spring’s grays and browns are uncommon, very hard to find in cosmetics, and don’t have easy associations for names. They’re just colours I memorize and look at again often. Most important, the colour is not earthy.
2. What is the difference between black and coal?
The image of coal is to illustrate the darkest black&white gray possible before flipping to solid, dense black.
3. I noticed that you show lots of gray shoes in the emails while the book suggests using hair colour to choose shoes – I would feel more comfortable with the yellows and browns of my hair colour as I’m not a big fan of gray – do you see that as a good choice for me? And is this boot close enough to my hair colour, which is darker underneath? I’m not sure I can see myself trying to find or wear light yellow boots/shoes! If this is too tan, too earthy, is there a way to work with that?
The boot Chantal asks about, above, is here at Roots Canada.
Overall, I think they’re fine. No two women will wear their colours the same way. I like that the boots are not too dark, orange (a bit orange, but lots of yellow), or lumberjack, with heavy treaded soles or cowboy feelings. Your energy isn’t really mesa or Cheyenne. These just feel natural, which is how you feel to interact with. You have no pretense or drama in what you choose to share. So in that sense, I like their authenticity and ease. The boots don’t feel like they have something to prove and neither does Bright Spring.
They are quite warm in colour, warmer than you are. They may not go perfectly with your new clothes colours, even if the clothing style is great with the boots. Wearing your hair and eye colour is one of those areas where women have to decide for themselves. I find that it can get you into problems when you interpret your hair or eye colour incorrectly, which we all do, all the time. Eyes have 20 colours in them at least. Hair is not a good indicator of Season, but it does have the same warmth setting as everything else about your colouring. This is common with True Winters who have apparently warm eyes and hair – if they wear those colours, their skin turns yellow, and there is conflict with the rest of the outfit.
For Bright Seasons, hair colour is the most difficult to understand and replicate. If the colour swatches show more gray, it’s because you are at that coolness level. Brights look poor in brown eyeshadow unless it’s the cleanest colour (no orange, no muted, no earthy). True brown can become mud on these faces. The clarity of your pigments can turn even medium browns into looking heavy and clumpy. But it’s important not to discard every item – I would wear these boots for sure, just with the warmer colours of your palette so they don’t seem like outsiders.
How about the choice above, linked here, also at Roots Canada?
4. I’m having trouble seeing myself as a high contrast person. Is this something that I take on faith as revealed by the drapes or can you help me to recognize this in myself?
No. 1: If we define contrast as distance between lightest light and darkest dark, then you’re a medium to medium-high contrast person. You don’t go to white or black. That’s value contrast. Now, your eyes are extremely intense in your face, giving a sense of a pretty wide span from light to dark, as you have, but not maximum.
Position white and black in your head. Now put a dot at a darkness level around medium. That’s the overall darkness effect you’re aiming for. You’ll achieve it using a span from yellowed-white to coal. Clearly, light and medium colours will be necessary, and the more dark you use, the more light you balance it with.
Above, medium value contrast, yellows with blues, sharp line distinctions in the foreground. Bright, sunny, warm. With every bit of black that’s inserted, the whole thing dies a little. Save it for tiny bits just to sharpen the edges and bring focus.
No. 2: There’s also colour contrast, distance apart on the colour wheel between two colours. You are colourful to look at. Your natural pigments are quite far apart (yellow hair with blue eyes, on some, we see light skin with golden brown eyes), which is why I find complementary colours so good to look at on warm Seasons. They are a logical extension of the natural appearance.
Medium value, sharp edges, a trace of black, neutrals with colours, the pants and T-shirt, the blouse and the earring.
No. 3: I like to see very sharp, clean edges between colour blocks on Brights because that’s what you look like, not all fluffy and blended and soft. That’s not contrast per se, but sharp divisions look more contrasting (is there line contrast?), it’s just a way that clear colours look good. You are moderately sharp to look at (bone structure, eye intensity, haircut is not feathery). Clean edges are a logical extension of the natural appearance. If you follow the guidelines you are made of, your clothes become yours for a reason. They seem connected with you.
This is Bright Winter – simpler, symmetric, darker, colder, with only a faint warmth. Black is half or less of the whole or the whole thing dies a little. Black sucks in light in itself and steals it from everything around it – almost shameful with the purity of the Bright Season colours, and a delicate balance even for Bright Winter because the light is faint and will lose the fight with a black wall.
You really can mix and match quite freely in your Colour Book, aiming for an overall darkness effect that’s about medium (there! a medium thing about Bright Spring). Allover light or dark isn’t so good. You are not monotone to look at. Inserting a colour somewhere is always necessary. Inserting a big colour block plus another one is even better.
Whether it’s lightest with darkest or medium with medium doesn’t matter too much. Your Colour Book duplicates your inherent lightest to darkest range exactly so you’re safe moving around in it. If I were to do the Colour Equations again, I’d lighten Bright Spring up even more, with bright blue, stone, or white pants. The only groups that make any sense to me in white pants (their white) are the Brights. True Winter, it would depend on how it was done.
In the client’s document, I changed two paragraphs to read this way:
This is Spring-like colour worn in a Winter’s way – meaning that you will wear your bright, clear, warm colors best, but using 2 or 3 different colours at once, and with moderate contrast, not as high as a real Winter would wear. Contrast defines how much distance exists between the lights and darks. High contrast implies that you wear the lightest lights and the darkest darks together. You are fine in these combinations, and equally good when combining your midtones.
With colour this bright, especially if the line between the colour elements is very crisp, they will look contrasting. They will not be like a watercolour swirl, which creates the problem of grayed colours when complements combine, quite opposite to the properties of the colours you are made of. You probably have medium-high extremes of lightness and darkness in your skin/hair/eyes, so you would repeat that in clothing and makeup to look balanced. Your palette does the thinking for you in this regard in that it comes close but not all the way to black and white.
5. You didn’t mention pearls as a choice for Bright Spring – I have a simple strand – will it work?
Anything will work. Like diamonds on a Soft Season, it’s not a natural fit but that doesn’t matter. Wear them anyhow if you love them. This is how you make your Season yours, your personal brand of dissidence that lets us know you better. It has to work for you, not the other way round. I know a Light Summer woman, the epitome of gentle grace, who wears the most beautiful, large rounded oval, slightly dangly, super sparkly, aquamarine earrings. It’s brilliant. It says to me “I love my life so much that I can’t hold it all in.”
No matter what we do, as gardeners, cooks, doctors, Seasons, we learn the discipline, we figure out the shortcuts and what we can get away with. Then, we decide how we’re going to break the rules or mould them to suit what we bring to the game. That’s just life lived with complete freedom of expression.
6. I have a sweater in yarn that combines several bright colours, alternating the colourful yarn with stripes in a dark / neutral colour. Would it be more flattering to stick to a solid colour?
Brights look great with many colours at once, just not blended together (blending colours causes either a watercolour effect, or the graying of mixing complementaries that makes the muted colours of Autumn and Summer). Side by side complementary colours or with a neutral colours, both are terrific on you. Stripes give energy.
There is a taste factor. You might like your colours blended together and that’s not wrong, just not what my eye prefers because it’s hard to maintain the high purity of each pigment. Be careful that the yarn isn’t comfy/chunky/heavy looking, especially if you’re working in neutral colours. It risks getting too homemade looking in that Autumn homespun way. Pick something young, Angora, sparkly, smooth. It should not look back-to-the-land. It should look brand new. Fun colours are always better on you, since colour is like your neutral.
A blue-eyed Bright Spring is very colourful to look at.
Your hair, eyes, and skin come together like this. You are beyond just colourful. You are coloured in complementary colours (blue eyes, yellow hair). That’s an extreme, or a type of contrast. So is light, warm hair on top, dark, cooler hair beneath, another type of contrast. The warm-cool in the colouring at once is true of all Neutral Seasons, but quite bright and alive here. To the viewer, it feels energetic and young.
On Bright Seasons, colours seem more at home than neutral grays and browns. Colours become your neutrals. Every Season has its extremes and only that type of colouring is completely at home and at ease in them. As Susan said so well, black is dressy, but only on True Winter is it casual wear. That’s what ‘at home’ means. It is that easy that it becomes your anytime, anywhere, the one thing you don’t plan around, where you can hide and relax. Having said that, nobody is at their best in head to toe black. Nobody.
Black is only thought to be dressy. Usually, it’s detracting. It can make textile look more expensive, yes. It is easier for marketers to sell us a ton of one thing than have to keep changing production lines, yes. The Dark Winter wears it well enough since it’s dark, but it begins to transform into the solid wall that it is on everyone but True Winter, so they warm it up. Walls are not entirely foreign to Dark Winter’s energy.
On Bright Winter, there are no walls, there is excitement. They are better in white than black, and a so-slightly yellowed white. Black shouldn’t be more than half the overall look. Thankfully, both Chantal and Rita knew to avoid it. As Bright Springs, a thin stripe of it here and there is fine but not more than that or it does what it always does – makes the colours dead. It sucks in all the light around it, which is an absolute shame for Bright Spring, the clearest, brightest colours that exist. The overall effect is gasping for sunshine.
7. I was very surprised to read that Spring is strongly associated with triangles and diamond shapes. I feel more drawn to squares in fabric (linen plaids, cotton madras, cotton checkerboard print) and rounded shapes in jewelry (beads, hoops, circles). Any comments?
Your preference. Those shapes are what I feel. Some see triangles as a Winter shape. Squares express more practical, natural, durable, serious, productive energy – maybe truer to how you have seen yourself for the last 20 or 40 years. Could be that the next 20 will be a little different.
Four years after my PCA, I was able to pull in the drama of Winter and could tell where the Enough line was. I couldn’t have done it 3 and 1/2 years ago. It cannot be assimilated in a week, a month, or a year. But you do continue to move closer to your center, hear your guides more clearly, and choose what is and is not the real you.
8. I’m having trouble thinking in terms of adding fun to my clothing. Suggestions of nylon, satin, trims, ruffles!! sound very girly, not a look I’ve ever worn or feel very comfortable with – any suggestions as to how I can approach this?
Bright Winter and Bright Spring read the style suggestions and see this
All I’m saying is that you’re not this. She is beautiful on someone else.
Start with the colours. Only the colours. Stay inside the lines you are comfortable with today. Pretty soon, they will loosen up and you’ll find some extra breathing space inside them. You might try yoga clothes instead of gardening clothes, as an example. The clothes at Lululemon, Athleta, Title Nine, MEC are often superb on Bright Spring and way better than rugged wear.
There is no need to ever get fancier than that. Nylon is a windbreaker. Satin might be a scarf. Forget trim and ruffles, and glitter. Not everybody does everything. The point is to get energy, as movement and saturated colour, into your look. Workout clothes give you that.
9. My biggest challenge is with the repeated descriptions of Bright Spring as light, delicate, charming, and adorable. When I read these descriptions it starts to feel like maybe I’m not really a Bright Spring after all. Could we have made a mistake?
The most aggressive woman I know sees herself as nurturing. It shocked her beyond belief to learn that in the character assessment at work, every single person pulled out the Highly Competitive card. A very controlling Soft Autumn. Bit odd. And yet, she is absolutely nurturing.
A True Summer of very classic proportions, in fact quite straight in the hip, sees herself as extremely curvy. In her view, she is aggressive, masculine, direct, bold, a walking firecracker. Yes, well, I could go with endlessly seeking. She has no risk aversion though, which is not really a Summer thing.
We get mixed up about ourselves. More important, we are hugely complex. There are only 12 Season groups. Just playing the numbers, factor in 100 personality traits at high, medium, and low levels, parenting, environment, birth order, experience – you wouldn’t have 12 possible combinations, you’d have 12, 000, 000. Still more important, the 12 groups are not organized around character, they’re organized around colour.
Could I have made a mistake? Sure. Anyone can, anytime. But I don’t think I did. We’ll drape you again if you want. Free. Just bring someone with you. I don’t talk much the second time unless I think I got it wrong.
You have a great deal of Winter in your character. You are certainly curious, analytical, and interested. You have the youthful appearance/hairstyle/feature shape associated with childhood, so there would be great continuity if you wore that but you don’t have to. You may find some of that a year from now. You may prefer to express more distance and reserve and less party, just as you are.
Don’t struggle or try to chase it, you’ll just push it further away, like chasing money. Try not to overthink it or you’ll extinguish all your abilities to feel it. Leave it there and explore stepping around your borderlines in ways that feel good. Release any effort at trying to control it. Trust that it will happen, don’t feel that you need to know how. Your mind took it in when your eyes did – remember how that happened during our PCA session? We were learning it together just by seeing it happening. A few words at the beginning and then we could feel it.
10. If it sounds like my thoughts and feelings are whirling around – they are!
They’re supposed to. In our short time together, we had to pull apart everything you thought you knew about your colouring, right back to absolute zero, to the point where you could say, “I do not know what is going to happen next.” Then, we built it all back up again with the blocks lined up correctly. It is a lot to take in.
To learn, you have to unlearn. What we think we know pretty well is usually where we are weakest.
To learn truth, you must surrender what you believe to be truth. Ask anyone who’s had a PCA. You get enough proof to get rid of a lot of stuff fast and make space for the real and the right. It’s a shock to the system.
To gain control, we must first surrender control. Control is only an illusion. Trying to get it is what keeps us tired.
To gain power, we must surrender power.
To empower ourselves with new truths is bound to evoke resistance. We will come up against it every single day. In detaching and deciding, we become free and open thinkers.
I know that I overwhelm you with information during and after a session with me. Everyone learns differently and I don’t know what will click with you. I want you to leave a different person than the one who walked in, on every level, not just your lipstick choice. These reflections, the expansion, the open-ness, the wonder and the wondering, they will carry over into every aspect of your life.
Begin with the colours, bringing them closer to your body as nail polish or a beach towel. To the viewer, they still look like part of your energy field. In time, less serviceable items may be easier to replace with brighter combinations or prints that feel too risky today.
Keep asking me questions. I need it to know where you could use some help. Helping you in real and tangible ways is what I am here to do.
And remember the whole point of your personal renovation (Chantal’s excellent words):
Add Joy to the Journey, to every little glimmer, every success, every little deeper understanding.